In Taiwan, Eric Chang Tried to be a Friend to Won Hong Kim
All good stories, perhaps, are long stories, and the case of Won Hong Kim is a good one. The revelation that former Minister of State Elvin Penner assisted the jailed South Korean fugitive to obtain Belizean nationality and a passport was strange enough. But the unveiling of Eric Chang as a possible accomplice was even stranger. But perhaps strangest of all is the story Chang told today of how he attempted to meet Kim in an immigration detention center – not jail – and how that attempt at a good deed led to the unravelling of the Immigration Department. He also spoke about trying to assist two other South Korean businessmen to obtain Belizean visas to come to Belize on business opportunities after visiting Honduras.
Eric Chang, Former Deputy Mayor, Belize City
“They told me [that] it was urgent; that they already scheduled or bought a ticket to Honduras. They say if could possibly help them to get a Belize visa, they will come and pay Belize a visit. So therefore I made the phone calls, Ambassador [said] she couldn’t do it. I said that’s fine, because I understand that once you have a U.S. visa, you can ask a land visit on arrival if they really want to. That’s what I understand, so I just said you know what, it’s okay. Thank you. At the time, perhaps, it’s an Immigration detention center; let me see what he got himself into; perhaps I can speak the language to help him get an attorney, or whatever assistance he might need. Upon my arrival at the Immigration detention center, the Immigration officer spoke to me; he said, Mr. Chang, Deputy Mayor, you know why Mr. Won Hong Kim is here? I told him I don’t; I get this phone call from my friend; [he] told me [to] see if I can assist here, so I came. They told me, ‘Mr. Chang, this guy is not a good person, he is not here for immigration offence; he [did] a lot of things in Korea, which is not good things, bad things in Korea. As a born Taiwanese – of course you hold your office in Belize right now – of your course you will look up if you can prosper in terms of whatever field it is – we really don’t advise you to visit this guy because he is not a good person.’ We have a long conversation – I have a long conversation with the Immigration officer to get to the details of what happened; therefore I draw my line, I backed off. Yes, I did make an attempt; I was misled by Mr. Young that told me that a guy needed your help in [the] Immigration detention center.”
Chang said he does work as a translator for fellow countrymen in court and other official capacities.